The essential guide to CRM data maintenance

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Customer relationship management (CRM) data is crucial for any organization. It fuels marketing campaigns, drives sales, and enhances customer experiences. 

But CRM data isn’t static; over time, all data will decay. Maintaining data quality is a task that requires regular attention, even if it can be time-consuming. 

This article explores the importance of CRM data maintenance, how to address common issues with data cleaning, best practices, and the tools that can assist in the process. We also explore the impact that Affinity for Salesforce and other tools have on your CRM data maintenance strategy.

What is CRM data maintenance?

CRM data maintenance is the process of regularly reviewing, updating, and ensuring the accuracy of the information stored in your CRM system. 

The process typically involves data cleansing, deduplication, and data monitoring. Regular CRM data maintenance will keep your database updated and well-organized so that customer and prospect-facing teams can rely on it for accurate information and insights. Data maintenance makes your CRM a valuable asset to your organization and prevents it from becoming a liability.

Why is CRM data maintenance important?

CRM data that isn’t maintained can have a negative impact on any business. Risks vary from a loss of trust when customer data is out-of-date, reduced sales efficiency, legal and compliance risks, and data decay.

Just on that last risk, research has found that 22.5% of B2B contact data decays every year. The result of all this bad data: Gartner estimates it costs organizations, on average, $12.9 million every year. 

Melody Chien, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner comments on the opportunities missed when CRM data isn’t maintained, saying: “Data quality is directly linked to the quality of decision making. Good quality data provides better leads, better understanding of customers and better customer relationships. Data quality is a competitive advantage.”

For example, clean data creates a competitive advantage for both sales and marketing strategies in the following ways: 

  • With high-quality data, teams can segment their prospect and customer lists to more effectively sell and market to them. 
  • Clean data allows teams to personalize their outreach using the right customer information. 
  • Clean data drives improvements across sales productivity, efficiency, and business operations.

Addressing CRM data maintenance issues

CRM data maintenance issues can range from incorrect or improperly formatted data to duplicate or incomplete data. The underlying challenge is maintaining consistent data, which requires a strategy that includes data cleansing, deduplication, and data monitoring:

Data cleansing: This involves fixing or removing incorrect, improperly formatted, duplicate, or incomplete data within your CRM.

Deduplication: This involves identifying and removing matching instances of CRM records or information to help keep your database organized and fresh.

Data monitoring: This involves regular check-ins to make sure that your CRM database remains accurate and reliable (and to resolve any issues before they snowball). Data monitoring can also highlight missing data and areas where additional data validation rules may be required.

CRM data management is ultimately the responsibility of everyone in an organization who touches CRM data. A data maintenance strategy will set the direction for your organization’s data, while best practices and tools will help the team stay on track.

Best practices for maintaining CRM data quality

Maintaining a clean and up-to-date CRM database is crucial for allowing teams across a company to reach their objectives. For example, customer success and sales teams need clean data to reach revenue targets; marketing teams rely on CRM data for effective campaigns that deliver pipeline; and product teams can use CRM data to source customers for research and beta programs. 

Establishing best practices around how data is entered and managed helps ensure that data quality remains high and that teams can always access the information they need.

Here are seven best practices to maintain data in your CRM system:

  1. Eliminate as much manual data entry as possible: One way to avoid incomplete contact records is to automate the process wherever possible. By automatically syncing your calendar and email data with your CRM, risk-prone manual data entry can be minimized. This helps to guarantee that no changes or updates are missed and can save 200+ hours of work per person every year.
  1. Standardize any remaining data entry: Some data will always need to be entered manually, but pre-set naming conventions and data formats can at least ensure that information is inputted in the same way by everyone across the team.
  1. Run regular data audits: Recurring data audits act as a good reminder to clean up your data on a frequent basis and before issues become unruly. A data audit process can also help to highlight and resolve duplicate data and duplicate records.
  1. Validate email addresses and phone numbers on lead forms: Accurate contact information is critical for sellers to communicate with their prospects. One way to minimize the risk of inaccurate data is to require validation on your website’s lead form data fields. This prompts users to double check the information they enter.
  1. Look for duplicates and eliminate unresponsive contacts: Sending the same communication multiple times to the same customer can fast-track them to the unsubscribe button. But with duplicates in your CRM database, it’s a constant risk. Nurture a positive customer experience by regularly checking for and deleting duplicates. It’s also good practice to remove contacts that have been unresponsive so sales teams can increase their productivity by spending time on relevant leads and deals that are more likely to close.
  1. Track lead sources: Understanding where leads are originating means you can double down on channels that work. For example, tracking lead sources allows marketing teams to measure marketing campaign effectiveness—even down to the individual tactic—against, for example, outbound sales motions.
  1. Periodically revisit and update your CRM data maintenance strategy: The best strategy is the one that people follow. Among these best practices, there will be some that come easier to your team than others. It’s important to make CRM data maintenance a collaborative effort and to simplify wherever possible—that might mean establishing a cadence for meeting to discuss and resolve CRM data issues, and/or implementing tools that help to automate more of the process.

Solutions that support data cleansing in a CRM system

There are many tools and integrations out there that can help to streamline CRM data maintenance. 

Tools that automate otherwise manual data entry help to keep CRM data maintained in real time. Affinity for Salesforce automatically populates the CRM with data from emails and calendar invitations, which gives all team members full context on the communication history with a customer. Affinity’s extensions bring the CRM to the places where sellers typically work—their web browser, email, and LinkedIn—allowing them to make updates in the flow of work, rather than needing to return to Salesforce.

Other tools support data cleansing through capabilities like bulk deduplication and mass data modification that minimize inaccuracies. DemandTools is built specifically for Salesforce and specializes in data management and standardization. Processes can be saved and reused at your organization’s desired frequency, which can help to maintain accurate data and keep your strategy on track.

Another data maintenance tool designed for Salesforce organizations is This solution enables teams to import data from hundreds of sources, then transform and cleanse it before sending it to Salesforce.’s pre-built data sources and destinations make it easier to deploy high quality Salesforce data pipelines, reducing the burden of CRM data maintenance.

How Affinity for Salesforce helps CRM data maintenance

Affinity for Salesforce radically simplifies CRM data maintenance. It enhances record management by automating contact creation and updates, while enriching records with  full interaction history as well as biographic, firmographic, and experience data. For sales teams, having this level of usable data in the dealmaking process can accelerate close rates by 25%.

Fully integrated with your inbox, calendar, and Salesforce, Affinity for Salesforce captures all engagement activities to empower data-driven decisions. With AI and relationship intelligence, Affinity structures and analyzes data across numerous sources to offer a holistic view of your network in a centralized, automatically updated database. 

Organizations using Affinity for Salesforce reduce their need for manual data upkeep and find their CRM data is more accurate, reliable, and accessible.


What is CRM data maintenance?

CRM data maintenance describes the need for organizations to regularly review and make updates to ensure the continual accuracy of data stored in their CRM system. Key strategies include data cleansing, deduplication, and data monitoring.

What is the difference between CRM data maintenance and CRM data management?

CRM data management is the process of storing, organizing, and maintaining customer and prospect data in one central place that an organization can access. There is some overlap between CRM data management and CRM data maintenance but the latter is primarily focused on the process of auditing the database, improving data accuracy, and resolving any issues.

How do you maintain a CRM database?

Maintaining a CRM database is an ongoing task because of the inevitability of data decay. Investing in the right CRM data maintenance tools and following these best practices will help to ensure your customer data remains clean and useable: 

  1. Remove the need for manual data entry as much as possible
  2. Set rules and validation requirements for any remaining data entry
  3. Regularly audit CRM data
  4. Validate the information collected from customers and prospects on lead forms
  5. Monitor for duplicate data and eliminate unresponsive contacts
  6. Collect data on where leads originate
  7. Revisit your CRM data maintenance strategy (and make it realistic)

What tools help with CRM data maintenance?

CRM integrations can streamline and automate the data maintenance process. For example, Affinity for Salesforce automatically analyzes your organization’s email and calendar data to create new contacts and make updates to records in the CRM. This reduces the need for manual data entry, ensures data accuracy, and gives sellers more time to spend on activities that close deals.

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